Longstanding Reggae band Synrgy has been in the music scene for quite some time, and in their tenure, they have created more than a few stories to tell. The journeymen of their craft have lived all over the west coast from Oregon, to California, and now reside in Mexico, but no distance is large enough to keep them from playing at this year’s Cali Roots in Monterey. Synrgy was the band charged with the honor and responsibility of being the first band to play at the eighth annual instalment of the festival, and started the weekend in style. After their set, we were able to sit down with the band’s lead singer and founding member, Brian Zach, and ask him what this experience has meant to him.
How does it feel to not only be playing Cali Roots, but opening it?
It was amazing, and super intense. Setting the tone, and being the first couple notes of Cali Roots, what an honor. I’ve been here as a patron several times, so coming as an artist and being invited into the Cali Roots family, well, what a better way to start the day for us?
You’ve played a lot of places, how does Monterey compare?
We love Monterey, we come here to tour during our off season. It’s a cool place, we dig it. It reminds me a little bit of Santa Cruz, it reminds me of Humboldt a little bit, It’s awesome. Like I said, I’ve been here three times for this festival, and this place just really caters to Reggae Music. It seems like the whole city just knows it’s coming, and they look forward to it every year.
So your lead guitarist used to be your merchandise salesman. What prompted you to bring him on in a performance capacity?
The older we get, it gets harder and herder to be tour ready and tour savvy at a moments notice and do what you have to do for a band that is trying to get to the level that we’re trying to get to, and he’s been there literally since day one with me. Always helping, always supporting at any cost, and he did merch for years. Band members would come and go and he would stick around, he became kind of a focal point for the band. People would come to see him just as much as they would come to see us, and it just made sense to bring him on for more than that. Then when we moved from Northern California down to San Diego, he was actually the only member that came down. He wasn’t even a member of the band then; (and) he was the only guy that came down with me to Mexico. That’s when we transitioned him into full time lead guitarist.
Why did you decide to move from California to Mexico?
We originally wanted to do San Diego because we could see the momentum, and the stream of the scene is based in Southern California, and I’m not the biggest fan of LA, I never have been, I don’t think I could handle it, but I’ve always liked San Diego, but it’s so ridiculously expensive, so cost drove us down to Rosarito Mexico two years ago. We used to live in Humboldt, we used to live in Oregon, and it was good up there, but there isn’t really a huge (Reggae) pulse. Like I said, the stream and the pulse of Reggae music right now in America is down in Southern California, so it was a goal for us to get down there.
What do your dreadlocks mean to you?
I started (growing) them 15 years ago as a kid, just being in love with Bob Marley and Reggae music, and not knowing this was going to be where I would head in life or that they would stay on my head that long. I fell in love with the subculture behind it, then it became five years, 10 years, and then 15, and (now) even my Dad and my whole family who were not into it now say “You just gotta keep going, why not just go to the floor? You’ve gone this far, you might as well just go for it.”
When did you start incorporating the Melodica into your act?
I’ve always liked the sound of it. A lot of things sprung out of my life out of necessity, so it was (my need to) play keyboard in a campfire environment. It was just a good transport item, and that’s what brought me into keyboards too. Then people enjoyed it, then we started to experiment and people still enjoyed it. So many people have never seen it, and I’m surprised because it is such a great combination with Reggae, it complements it so well. I call it a pirate-ey harmonica-piano.
How do you see yourself as an artist? What message do you want your music to send?
I just want to inspire younger people to follow their dreams and follow their heart. Follow people that really think about their life and what they want to do. Inspiration and hope. I was always told I could do whatever I wanted to do, and I’ve spent my whole entire life doing and trying to achieve that. Just creating, creating, and creating art. I never even thought it would come this far, I just enjoyed the ride. I had faith in the journey, and what a blessing it’s been. Some of it’s uncomfortable, and its hard to grow through some of it, but you use music as a tool.
I think that the difference between any artist and completely insane people is that artists can turn trauma into something physical for people to look at.
What advice would you like to give any artists who look up to you?
Don’t expect, overnight, to get those results that you are trying to attain. Anything good, most of the time, comes with an immense amount of time in it and hard work doing other things. Like, people are shocked to find out that I spend so much more time behind a laptop computer trying to book the band’s shows and getting shut down and getting “No” responses in emails, and trying to get ahold of media, and people like you guys. Especially at a band at our level, you have to hustle and work hard to get to this place. There’s going to be hard times and hungry days, but you know what? It’s the best job in the world, and I just look at some of my friends and my peers that didn’t have the fortune of following their passions and their dreams and think wow, we’re so fortunate. I’m so fortunate to have followed that inner compass. Trust that. Trust, trust, trust the journey, have patience, and enjoy where you’re at.
What is one question you have never been asked on a subject you have always wanted to talk about?
Probably the serious crazy stuff; political or religious. Reggae is so beautiful because it comes with so many subcategories and subgenres, it has its own religious influence behind it, and Jamaica, and the history of it, and where it’s at right now as a movement, at least for me that’s kind of cool.
Synrgy is currently working on their next big project and planning upcoming tour dates. Be sure to follow them on Facebook to hear what’s next for them.